Part Two – How to choose a company to install a fence around your yard

You’re ready to invest thousands of dollars in a new fence. Doesn’t it make sense to learn some of the common mistakes fence installers make? In Part 1 of this series, we discussed what to look for when selecting a fence company in Atlanta. In Part 2, we’ll examine a few shortcuts fencing contractors might take that you need to protect yourself from. Eddie Clark, CFP of Accent Fence, has generously helped us by sharing these tips.

It's important to choose a contractor you can trust when you're having a fence built.

Do they recommend that you FIRST get a survey before beginning?

“Folks will tell you ‘Just put the fence HERE.’ Then the neighbor will often get a survey done and the fence winds up in the wrong place. Only work with a professional installer that tells you to get a survey done. I will often tell people when giving them a free quote that I don’t see their property lines. They will tell me that they have been mowing their lawn for many years and they know where it is. I always ask…are you sure?”

We asked Eddie if he had a story to tell about property lines. “Yes! A friend swore to me that he knew where the lines were since he had been mowing his lawn for ten years. I asked him if he was sure, and he answered yes. Thankfully, before we began the job, he called me to tell me that he pulled out his plot and he was wrong!”

Don’t trust your sod line. You want to see the actual original plot pins in your yard. If you don’t see them, then pull out your copy of the plot to see where the line is before building a fence. If you don’t have a copy of the plot, then hire a land surveyor. Eddie told us that this will cost you between $300 – $500. This is cheap insurance for you. Don’t fret about the extra money either. Having to relocate a fence later will cost you many thousands of dollars, so you’re doing yourself a favor.

Do they tell you where to put the fence?

If a fence guy tells you to put the fence here…run. No professional fence installer will ever tell you where to install your fence. Instead, they should educate you on the importance of getting a survey first before beginning.

Do they mix the cement up in the hole or in a bucket?

This might not seem to make a difference to you. However, listen to what Eddie told us: “Many installers will use Quikcrete to set their fence posts. The thing is that the instructions on the bag tell us to NOT mix it in the hole. When someone tries to cut corners this way, a poor mix is the result. For example, the top of the cement will get hard. The sides of the hole will get hard, too. Unfortunately, though, the most important cement that’s next to the actual pole will be powdery and chalk-like.”

Shortcuts cause the cement molecules to not bond together properly. This means loose fence posts down the road. Make sure that your contractor is planning on mixing the cement outside of the hole.

How do they buy their wood?

Do they buy it at the cheapest place? Or do they buy it in bulk so that they can control the quality of the lumber used in your fence?

Make sure that you're happy with the wood being used for your fence.

Does the fencing company have workers’ compensation and liability insurance?

“Don’t simply take their word on it,” Eddie said. “A salesman can simply say yes to brush you off. So, are they willing to show you a current certificate of insurance? They should be tickled to death to show it off, especially if they pay as much as I do.”

What if they don’t have a copy to show you? “If they hem and haw, then run like the wind,” Eddie said. “If they lie about this, what else are they lying about?” Why is insurance so important? “Nobody plans on getting hurt on the job. You should want something to stand between you and a lawsuit besides a contractor that you really don’t know much about,” Eddie said.

If they don’t show you current proof of insurance with their name on it, cross them off your list of companies to get fence quotes from.

Do they use the wrong kind of nails?

 Just suppose you were having a wooden privacy fence installed around your home. Eddie told us that the type of nails they use can make a difference in how your fence looks and how long it lasts for. “Pressure treated lumber is very acidic,” Eddie explained. “That’s why the manufacturers suggest that you only use ring-shanked hot-dipped galvanized nails. These galvanized steel nails are dipped in zinc. This means they will last longer without rusting.

“Some guys will try to save money and only carry one kind of nail on their trucks,” Eddie continued. “For example, they may only carry aluminum nails for red cedar. However, you should never use these on pine. They’re not strong enough. In twelve months, the boards will expand, contract, and twist. They’ll cause the nails to loosen up. They also will cause it to rust later on. You’ll see black stains dripping down from the nail holes. This is known as weeping.”

Find out what kind of nails your contractor uses. Insist on ring-shanked hot-dipped galvanized nails for your privacy pine fence. If you don’t, your fence will look great for the first few months – but by the twelfth month, you’ll no longer be happy with it.”

Are the post holes deep enough?

The Quikcrete website says that the diameter of the hole should be three times the width of the post. So, for a 4-inch wide post, you’d need a 12-inch wide hole. The depth of the hole should be one-third to one-half of the height of the post above ground. So, for a 6-foot high fence, you’d need a hole that’s at least two feet, ideally three, deep.

Are the fence post holes deep enough?

How much cement should they use per post?

That will depend on the diameter of the post and the depth of the hole. Using our example above, a 6-foot privacy fence with a 4″ wooden post would take 3 bags of 50 lb Quikcrete. There’s even a spiffy little calculator here at the Quickcrete website.

Find the answer to this question ahead of time. Some fence contractors will only use one or two bags to try and save money. This will compromise the sturdiness of your fence posts years down the road.

We hope you found this two-part series on how to pick an Atlanta fence company helpful. Buying a new fence will cost you thousands of your hard-earned dollars. You deserve to have a reliable installer to work with. We want to thank Eddie for his time in giving us these helpful tips. If you have any questions feel free to contact him his website here. And please remember, Atlanta Insurance encourages you to only choose a fencing contractor that has the proper insurance so that you are protected.

Speaking of insurance, do you need home insurance? Renters insurance? Life insurance? Car insurance? We’d be happy to help you out with that! We can discuss your coverage options with you and get you a free quote. 

Part One – How to choose a company to install a fence around your yard

If you’re looking to have a fence installed around your yard, listen up! In today’s article, we interview Eddie Clark, CFP of Accent Fence. He offers some awesome tips on selecting the right fence contractor in Atlanta. In this two-part series, we’ll investigate what to look for before choosing someone to work with. Eddie was a branch manager for a wholesale fencing manufacturer. When the company went out of business 17 years ago, he started his own fencing business – Accent Fence of Atlanta.

To make sure that you choose a trustworthy fencing company to work with, consider the following questions:

  • Are they a member of the National Association?
  • How long have they been in business?
  • What does their online reputation say about them?
  • Can you trust them?
  • Do they work for builders as well as doing residential installations?
  • What kind of workmanship warranty do they offer?

Let’s take a look at why these questions are so very important:

Are they a member of the National Association?

“The danger of this industry is the ease of entry,” Eddie said. “Anyone with a post-hole digger and a truck can be in business this afternoon. So, for example, I am a member of the American Fence Association. Most knuckleheads won’t want to pay to be part of this association. When a fencing contractor is an active member, it shows a commitment to the industry and that this is more than a job to them.”

He continued, “There are additional credentials to look for. For example, I am also a Certified Fence Professional.” Is that important? Notice what Eddie shared: “Less than 2% of fence installers ever achieve this certification. It takes a lot of time to be qualified to take this comprehensive test. In fact, more than half fail on their first try. It also requires re-certification every 3 years. Next, there is being recognized as a Blue Ribbon Contractor by the association. When you are selective like this, chances are really good that you’ll get a great contractor.”

The lesson? Be selective. Remember that anyone can call themselves a fence installer. However, only 2% of the installers out there have received recognition as a Certified Fence Professional. You deserve the best contractors working on your home, don’t you? So, don’t settle for anything less.

How long has the company been in business?

A company’s warranty is only as good as how long they’ve been in business. You want a company that’s been in business for a minimum of three to five years. Why three years minimum? “Most businesses die within the first three years,” Eddie said. “So a company that’s still in business after five years is a good sign. However, make sure that they have the same business name, same owner, and same phone number for the whole time they’ve been in business.”

Remember that five years of experience isn’t enough. You don’t want a bankrupt business working on your home under a new name, do you? Instead, you’re looking for a business with a trustworthy track record.

What does their online reputation say about them?

Look for contractors with good reviews on portals like Google and Kudzu. If you can, talk to the customers and look at the fence to prove to yourself that it was installed professionally.

Can you trust them?

Online reputation is one thing. Spending time with the fence professional when getting a quote is quite another. Does it sound like they know what they’re talking about? Are they able to explain their process and methods for installing a backyard fence in detail? “If they can’t explain to you what they’re going to do in an easy-to-understand, logical manner, why would you ever want them to install your fence?” Eddie asked.

In short, listen to your gut before signing on the dotted line.

Do they do work for builders as well as doing residential installations?

Why should you care about this? “Most fences will not need to be replaced for 15 years,” Eddie said. “That means if a contractor only does residential installations he does not need to focus on customer service. A residential fence installer can do poor to medium grade quality work and still stay in business because they don’t count on repeat business. They make their money and then disappear. On the other hand, if a contractor does work for home builders, then they must do good work or they will be replaced quickly!”

So, if you want a reliable contractor, choose a company that does work for repeat customers like home builders.

What kind of workmanship warranty do they offer?

Eddie told us that traditionally the workmanship warranty on a new fence is one year. He continued, “If there’s going to be a problem with the installation it shows up quickly, usually within 6 months. We’re not talking about warped boards because that’s the nature of wood. We’re talking about poor workmanship by the installer.”

Eddie went on. “Now, some salesmen will offer you a five-year warranty on workmanship to differentiate themselves from the competition. However, as explained already, this really has no value. It sounds good in theory. Remember that most fence contractors will not even be in business five years from now! So, if some smooth-talking salesman tells you he will give you a five-year warranty on workmanship, try this instead. Ask him what the price is with only a one-year warranty on the labor. They’ll tell you it’s the same price. You will quickly learn that this is a meaningless warranty.”

That concludes Part 1 of this series on how to select a good fence company in Atlanta. We want to thank Eddie of Accent Fence for his time and the great advice. We hope you have found this information helpful. In Part 2, we’ll examine a few shortcuts fencing contractors might take that you need to protect yourself from.

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